Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said Maine will be getting $30 million over the next four years to expand a successful home visitation program that has already helped improve health, safety and economic standards for vulnerable families in Maine. The Maine Families Home Visiting Program has been in place for about five years, but Pingree said the new federal funding will allow it to dramatically expand.
Pingree contacted the Obama Administration this summer, urging them to fund the program in Maine.
"Maine Families has been doing good work with vulnerable parents by helping them find ways to provide better environments for their children," Pingree said. "And the results speak for themselves. When you look at measurable changes--things like rates of immunization, emergency room visits, injuries, nutrition--they are all improving in families who participate in the program. With this major federal investment the program will be able to reach out to many, many more families."
Maine Families is run out of the Maine Department of Human Services, who contracts with local agencies around the state to provide the services. Trained professionals from the agencies visit families who ask to participate in the program, and provide parents with information and resources that support the physical and emotional health of the entire family.
The funding Pingree announced today will come in installments, with about $7 million the first year and increasing to over $9 million in the fourth year, as the program expands. The grant was made possible by the Affordable Care Act (the health care reform law).
Pingree said the Maine program has been helping families improve their economic situation.
"Just getting a high school diploma or a job with a living wage has been the primary goal for many of the parents already involved in this program," she said. "And the work that Maine Families has done has helped families reach those goals."
A third of the families Maine Families served last year had an income of $10,000 or less.